India batsman Suresh Raina is fully determined to prove his mettle in international cricket once again after receiving a call-up in the national team. The southpaw will get a chance to represent India after the gap of more than a year, when the Men in Blue will take on the Proteas in a three-match T20I series from February 18.
Amidst all the buzz concerning his comeback, the 31-year-old Raina on Thursday (February 15) stated that he was snubbed from the national side despite performing well.
“I was hurt on getting dropped even after performing well. But now I have cleared the Yo-Yo test and feeling so strong. During all these months of hard training, the desire to play for India again grew only so much stronger,” Raina said in an exclusive interview with Aaj Tak.
“I won’t leave it here. I have to play for India for as long as possible. I have to play the 2019 World Cup because I know I have done well in England.
“There is still a lot left in me and I am extremely confident of doing well in these three games in South Africa,” he added.
Things were going downhill for Raina as he managed to amass only 105 runs at a miserable average of 11.66 while leading Uttar Pradesh in Ranji Trophy 2017-18. However, he didn’t lose hope at any stage and kept working hard on his batting and fitness. It is a testament to Raina’s dedication the way he worked on his fitness to match the criterion of Virat Kohli led Indian teams’ ‘Yo-Yo’ endurance test result.
After regaining his confidence by passing the ‘Yo-Yo’ test, Raina took his batting to a different level altogether in the recently concluded Syed Mushtaq Ali Twenty20 Trophy. He went on to score a belligerent 126* off 49 balls against Bengal, 61 against Tamil Nadu in the second match, 56 against Baroda before finishing the season with 16 against Delhi in the last match.
“Yes, I am 31 but, as they say it, age is just a number. The other day when my match clothing arrived, I had the same feeling like I got before making my India debut. It is so special.
“My family became my biggest strength during this trying time. I played a lot of domestic cricket and focused on clearing the Yo-Yo test too. I worked really hard on it at the NCA. I have always been fit during my entire career but it is just that at time you get down injuries or niggles and that hampered the preparation to clear the test,” Raina said.
Given the fact that India’s ODI middle order is still brittle with the likes of Manish Pandey, Dinesh Karthik, Kedar Jadhav and Ajinkya Rahane not being able to seal the spot, Raina is fully aware of the fact that a few good knocks in the T20Is against South Africa will make his case strong for the 2019 World Cup.
“If you talk about the No 4 slot in the ODIs, it is not an easy one to bat on. Most of the time the team is in a tricky situation when the No 4 comes to bat, especially while chasing. One needs to attack, change the gears constantly. I personally feel that the No 4 and 5 slot suits more to my style of batting,” concluded Raina.
India Squad for South Africa T20Is:
Virat Kohli(c), Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Lokesh Rahul, Suresh Raina, MS Dhoni, Dinesh Karthik, Hardik Pandya, Manish Pandey, Axar Patel, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Jaydev Unadkat, Shardul Thakur